Psychologist’s Views on the Mandela Effect

Whether it’s Nelson Mandela’s death, the Monopoly man and his monocle, or the Berenstain Bears, people don’t always remember things correctly. Today the Mandela Effect has grown into a cult phenomena. Characterized by a misremembering of some details or an event, what started as a conspiracy theorists paradise has slowly been dissected into a set of psychological explanations. 

Three global psychologists have weighed in on what they personally think has led to the surge in examples of the Mandela Effect. Linda J. Levine of the University of California prioritizes how human memory constantly updates and replaces without us knowing. False memories are incredibly common and can be taken as more real than the memory that spawned them.

Aaron-Bonner Jackson of the Cleveland Clinic for Brain Health prioritizes the disparity between memory and reality. Taking someone’s word on a memory can make that the reality of what happened, while the initial event that spawned a memory is powerful, just as powerful are the biases, preconceptions, and expectations all humans have. 

Finally Tim Hollins of the University of Plymouth says it’s actually relatively simple. Even if on a large scale, even if the conclusions were all reached independently, memories often change to fit one’s existing beliefs and knowledge. All three of these explanations together paint a clear picture. The Mandela Effect is not magic, humans are just imperfect, and understanding that is the key to avoiding similar memory mistakes and the effect itself.

Mandela Effect
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Adam Hansen

Adam is a part time journalist, entrepreneur, investor and father.